Disabled dance artist drops into workshop in Spalding

Dance teacher Laura Dajao (centre) with artsNK's and Transported's Community Dance Artists Emma Bouch and Emily Sutton, and workshop participants Kate, Flo, Lily, Sophie and Abbie. (SG130218-131TW)
Dance teacher Laura Dajao (centre) with artsNK's and Transported's Community Dance Artists Emma Bouch and Emily Sutton, and workshop participants Kate, Flo, Lily, Sophie and Abbie. (SG130218-131TW)
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Professional disabled dance artist and choreographer Laura Dajao showed that anyone can dance, regardless of ability or disability, when she presented a workshop in Spalding.

The 29-year-old, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 18, was at the South Holland Centre as part of 11 Million Reasons To Dance’s national tour.

Laura, who lives in London, was invited to lead a workshop for existing and budding dancers wishing to improve their skills during February half-term.

The 11 Million Reasons to Dance project is a community initiative celebrating dance for all.

Laura said: “I have always been interested in performing arts. When I was younger I took part in school productions and attended CYM (Centre for Young Musicians) and attended classes at Young and Talented (Performing Arts Youth Group).

“I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in my last year of college. I had been shopping in Tottenham Court Road and I noticed my right leg was dragging.

Dancing to the beat at Move to the Movies workshop. (SG130218-111TW).

Dancing to the beat at Move to the Movies workshop. (SG130218-111TW).

“I’d been having stiffness in my legs for some time and had seen four different GPs over the course of a year but was told I was too young to have anything like MS.

“My symptoms were so momentary and random.

“In the December, my parents got me seen under private health care. I had an MRI scan and tests showed I had MS.”

Laura was in and out of a wheelchair for a year, until she had to use it permanently to be mobile.

Coming up with some new moves. (SG130218-112TW).

Coming up with some new moves. (SG130218-112TW).

But she did not let that stop her pursuing her love of dance.

At the age of 20 she auditioned for East London Dance’s Youth Company (currently known as Limitless).

She said: “They were really lovely. I was the only dancer in a wheelchair and when I went along for the first time I felt I was fumbling around like an idiot in my chair but they saw something in me.

“I was the first person there with a disability and it was quite monumental.”

She later had her right leg amputated above the knee due to an infection.

The workshop at the South Holland Centre was led by Laura with the assistance of artsNK’s & Transported’s Community Dance Artists Emma Bouch and Emily Sutton.

While the youngsters who attended didn’t have any disabilities, the session was open to all.

Laura led them through a session called Move to the Movies, where they came up with ideas for their own choreography including a section inspired by the movie Strictly Ballroom.

Laura said: “It went really well. Dance is just self-expression. It doesn’t matter what limbs you do or don’t use. It is about expressing how you feel.”

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